Prelude: For those who don't understand mallu and the functions of vishu
"Kani" - the "darsan" that you have in the morning as the first thing
"konna" - the beautiful yellow flower (see my previous post) that grows in kerala at that time and is used for kani
"Kaineettam" - the pocket money that elders give kids on the day
"sadhya" - the feast
So what .. if I missed "real" Vishu for the 5th consecutive year ? Atleast I can spend my day in those memories.. of getting up early in the morning and being taken to the "kani"... and then crackers and crackers and getting the "kaineettam" from elders.. and then again crackers and crackers.. and then the temple visit... and then again crackers and crackers.. and then the visits to our tharavadu and then again crackers and then the Vishu Sadya and then again... well u know what !!
For some reason I like it better than Onam.. may be its the crackers.. may be its the fact that you don't have a rain threat.. Or may be its that its just one day... Oh well, I am speaking as tho' I am in Kerala
Well to be honest, this has been my best Vishu in US. For one, this time I did not miss the kani and the puja at the temple, which , surprisingly they do on the 13th... And yeah, I got the dollar coin as kaineettam as well, from the Santhi ! But then much more than that I owe my Vishu feeling to the couple- "AR" and "AA". .. It all started yesterday nite, when we went on the Konna stealing mission around the Univ- Oh well, it was not really konna, but the yellow flowers shown above.
It was so typical of what we used to do in kerala- hunt around in someone's house for konna, get chased away by their dogs.. and so we would have a girl as a shield as the guys climb on tree tops.. the house people find it tough to chase us away if we have a girl in the team.. Oh well, but here "AR" was taking the lead herself.. and the 4 of us who went with her, hardly did anything as she boldly did the honors !!
And then, I wanted to wake up at 4.. but ended up waking up at 6.. after having done my taxes, and for someone else as well, who needed it ,and having my classic "Paalappam" as breakfast, I headed to "AR" and "AA" 's place to see what they have got. And to my surprise, I was asked to close my eyes before they opened the door.... lead by hand, made to turn around this way and that way just as I would have been made to do at home back in kerala, and finally open my eyes, to a beautiful kani she had set up the previous nite- even with ashtamangalyam and stuff !! (see picture). Thanks a ton folks
And then she started making dosa.. I was already full but stayed on to try it out.. and the nostalgia that I expected was right there - when I was given chutney powder (the "chilly powder") and asked "Kuzhiyundakku" - meaning, make the pit so that she can pour the oil to mix it..- once more in classic mallu style.. how such small things can take you to a totally different world..
Anyway, had a pretty good day.. when finally in the evening, I tried my hand at the paayasam (kheer), which came out decent - which my friends at the samskritam practice had a good time with (Sorry "AR", I will make it for you again some other time, after all its instant :-) ) and the usual temple trip, this time in a white mallu mundu (dhothi)
Of course there are so many old memories that come to my mind about Vishu.. but one of them sticks out ... it was my last year at IITM, and I knew I was going to miss Vishu at home for quite some time to come, so I made sure I will go home .. and go I did.
For those who don;t know, gardening is my mom's biggest passion in life... and as I landed up at home, among the many things that she told was that she got a new plant (I don't remember which, but it was perhaps a rare variety of hydrangea ..) and she is eagerly waiting for the bud to grow and flower...
And so its time for the Vishu crackers and she sat there watching me go crazy like a li'l kid burning them away .. and all of a sudden one of it landed on a plant.. and my bad, it was the same very new plant. It burst and something green went all the way up. For a moment I was breathless and as I looked at her, I saw that face change from a watchful one to ... oh no, she started crying.. really..
And there I stood not knwoing what to do.. but somehow finally I managed to console her.. and a closer examination of the plant gave us some hope that the bud may come back again..
And , well, shall I not leave you with the good news ? Back in IITM, while I was on my final project (in summer), in one of the weekly (YES, unbroken for 4 years) letters from my parents , my mom had "printed" in her beautiful handwriting, that not only did it grow back, but gave beautiful flowers as well .. subsequently, when I went home, before leaving for US, she had carefully preserved that plant with the flowers for me :-)